City-dwellers are gentle creatures that need to be protected from all outside sensations. At least, that’s the reasoning behind Dyson’s new noise-canceling, air-purifying headphones. The Dyson Zone is one of the weirdest wearables we’ve ever seen—weirder than Razer’s RGB face mask, even.
Let’s clarify something up front; the Dyson Zone is not a response to the pandemic. Dyson began working on these air-purifying headphones five years ago and filed its first personal filtration patents in 2016.
At its core, the Zone is just a pair of headphones that snaps to a Dyson-grade personal air purifier. It leaves an air gap that won’t offer complete protection from aerosolized viruses or bacteria. And if you cough or sneeze, the Zone’s built-in fans will shoot your nasty mouth moisture all over the place. (That said, you can wear a mask under the Zone, and it comes with attachments that meet FFP2 filtration standards.)
Dyson claims that the Zone is perfect for commuters and city-dwellers, who are inundated by nasty noise and air every time they leave their home. It creates a “personal bubble” around your head, protecting you from air pollution and unwanted noise. In practice, the Zone probably does its job, though we’re waiting on third parties to test the technology in a lab.
I should also mention that, the Zone makes its wearer look ridiculous. Maybe that’s the necessary trade-off for clean air and pleasant sound. But it’s still an odd idea, given that N95 masks (which don’t require a charge) can already filter dust, VOCs, aerosolized particles, and other nastiness.
And no, the Zone is not an elaborate April Fool’s joke. The company previewed its Zone headphones in-person with journalists, who confirm that it’s real and functional.
One of the weirdest parts of this story is the Dyson Zone companion app. Not because it’s weird, but because it sounds like it’s actually practical. The Dyson Zone app alerts users to outdoor air quality, which may influence their decision to wear the Zone or other facial coverings.
Dyson plans to launch the Zone air-purifying headphones ships this fall at an unknown price. We still don’t know the product’s battery life, and again, its real-world performance hasn’t been verified by third parties.